“This is My Home”: Cody Angst’s Story

This wasn’t part of the plan.

Not in Cody Angst’s mind, anyway.

Cody is the grandson of the former owner of  LaClair Sales, Inc. in Chesaning, Michigan. As a car sales associate with family ties, he thought he was eventually going to take over the store. Everyone did, actually.

But things change.

“Everybody — myself included — thought someday I would run the store,” Cody said “I was doing well starting out in 2018. I had a pretty good idea of how everything was going to go.”

Then he went to deer camp to hunt in November 2019 with his grandpa, his dad, and their friends.  

“I will never forget it,” Cody said. “I remember my grandpa saying, ‘Hey, I’m going to sell the store’ and I thought, ‘Whoa.’ I was 28. You’ve got this all planned out and then that happens and you think, ‘Holy smokes…what now?’”

Cody learned Garber was going to acquire his grandpa’s dealership – so Cody had some decisions to make.

“We had six months to prepare, so I was wondering, ‘Do I start looking for another dealership to go to?’ Fortunately, I had talked to some people who knew people who were working at Garber. I hadn’t heard one person say, ‘You gotta get out of there.’ Everybody seemed to be happy there.”

Cody decided to move forward with Garber. Though he doesn’t work for his family anymore, he now gets to be a part of the Garber family culture that helps make for a great career.

Family Business

Cody was never a stranger to the dealership life. He grew up in it, after all.

“I was always brought up around the dealership,” he said. “My grandfather built this place and my mom and my aunt both worked here. We were always coming up here to get a bag of popcorn and check in to see what Grandpa was up to here. I always have enjoyed cars, always been a car person. I liked working on them and doing stuff with cars.”

Using his passion for cars as a beacon to find a career, Cody went to college at night while working at a body shop in a nearby town. Then he landed a job at the body shop alongside his family at LaClair.

Soon, though, he started to think about tackling a new beast: sales.  

“I liked working on the stuff; I really liked painting and I still really like doing it,” he said. “But I never met a poor salesperson. Plus I got really tired of people driving with Owosso and Saginaw dealership stickers on the back of the car. I thought, ‘Let’s give it a shot.’”

In June 2014, he became a sales associate. It was a transition that catapulted Cody out of his comfort zone.

“I was never the kind of person to get dressed up,” he said. “I was a hoodie and sweatpants guy. I remember on my first day in sales, I was putting the tie on and thinking, ‘What the heck am I getting myself into?’”

Despite the new uniform that felt a bit unfamiliar, Cody started to get a feel for selling.

“The first two weeks I did nothing but training,” he explained. “In the meantime, I sent out letters to people who would possibly buy vehicles from me. The second week of June, they let me take off and start selling.”

He was still uncomfortable at first…but then things started looking up.

“The first or second day I was like, ‘Maybe I’ll just go back in the body shop’,” he said. “But our old used car manager came in and talked to me and he’d give me pointers and say, ‘Just give it a little bit of time.’ So during the first month you’re still all, ‘Am I doing it right? Should I be doing this?’ But nobody is perfect. Then you get that first paycheck and think, ‘Oh my God, I made more money than I thought I did’ and it gives you more drive. I’ve always been hungry to win, and I kept going from there.”

A Smooth Transition

Soon, Cody felt comfortable in his sales role. He was mentally preparing to take over the store one day. Then his grandpa dropped the bomb at hunt camp that made Cody pivot.

Still, he stayed.

How Garber came in and acquired the dealership helped reassure Cody from the start.

“I’ll tell you what: it was nicer than you could ever imagine a transition going,” he said. “I’m so happy it happened. I’m not just saying this: I cannot tell you enough about how happy I am with the way it went. It’s been a great transition.”

One of the reasons the transition went well is how it was a slow process rather than an immediate shock to the system.

“Garber left it exactly how it was but with a different name at first,” Cody explained. “The first six months we didn’t really make any huge tweaks. They kept my payment plan the same. Same managers, same sales guys. Customers would go in, and see that we’re all the same people, just a different company name on our shirts. It was a stress-free transition.”

As changes were implemented, new processes were added with intentionality and strategy. It only benefited the store.

“Garber leadership made slow changes to little things, tweaks, to improve things, and they’d explain why and how it was going to benefit the store,” he said. “They had proof behind everything for all the changes they made, and we became better for it.”

No Place Like Home

Even though his family no longer owners the dealership, Cody said it still feels familiar and welcoming.

“It feels like home here,” he said. “This is my house. I’ve grown up in this building here. The whole process…Garber does it right. I like who I work with. There are just the nicest people here. Everyone loves working for Garber.”

He said not only does Garber show their appreciation to their team members, they offer paths to grow.

“If you come to work for Garber and they see you are working hard and giving it your all, they take care of you,” he said. “There are opportunities here to be made. It is endless with how far you want to go. If you try, you can always go as far as you want to.”

Fast Five

First job? Cutting grass for my dad’s company. I couldn’t drive a car yet. I was 14.

First car? 2003 Chevy ZRTS10. It was an ugly color…pewter. 

Three things you can’t live without? My snowmobile, my family, my weekends

What’s something people would be surprised to know about you? I like to hunt and I like to snowmobile. Sometimes people are surprised to know that I’m not some fancy guy. They are like, “OK, he’s the grandson of this guy, he’s probably driving around in this fancy vehicle and going to wine bars.” But in reality, people see me out of work with a hat on and jeans. People see me at work in khakis and think I’m fancier than I am.

Best piece of advice? Tom Rhodes told me when I first started selling cars, ‘If you do not know the answer to the question, do not lie to the customer. You say, “Sir or ma’am, I do not know but I will find out.” And that’s what I tell all the guys that start here. Do not BS people. People appreciate honesty. 

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Lindsay Henry

Lindsay Henry

Lindsay is the Digital Communications Manager for Garber Automotive Group.

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